Against the backdrop of nationalism, devolution and North Sea oil, Scotland were the only British team to qualify for the 1978 World Cup, and set off with genuine hopes of returning champions. But it all went horribly wrong. Beaten by Peru, a country few could point to on a map, and drawing with Iran, Scotland faced Holland, needing to win by three goals. Incredibly, the Scots conjured up one of the greatest goals in World Cup history to give themselves a chance!but it wasn't to be. Throughout this entertaining account, the cast of characters stands out: manager Ally McLeod, more a friendly uncle than world-class strategist; the monstrously permed, part-time goalkeeper Alan Rough; and wide-boy Willie Johnstone, sent home after failing a drugs test. Yet despite the resounding failure and humiliation, Argentina '78 is still viewed with great affection. Perhaps for the last time, Scotland had a world-class team and after all, if you end up beating the runners-up, doesn't that mean you are the winners?
A freelance writer - and long-time follower of Scotland - Graham McColl contributes regularly to THE TIMES, FOURFOURTWO and WHEN SATURDAY COMES. He has written many books and also worked with Tommy Gemmell on his autobiography.